Often I am asked by sincere Christians, "Just what can I do as a Christian in serving God if I don't go to church; attend church services?" At times it is put like this: "If you do away with the Church, what will you put in its place?" These questions represent the confusion of those who have been INSTITUTIONALIZED in the local church institution. This institution controls and directs their total religious life, just like the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) directs and controls the life of those in that institution. They are "hooked." They are all "church-dependent."
The word "institutionalize" is a fairly common word in our day. It has to do with placing someone in an institution for the person's own good and/or the good of others and society. Criminals are sentenced to a term in prison for a crime. They are locked up, institutionalized, to be put under the control of an institution. Rational people do NOT want to be institutionalized.
Yet in reality millions of people have voluntarily surrendered themselves to be institutionalized! Are YOU one of them? You did this when you "joined" or "placed membership" in the local Church Institution (C-I), of whatever religious brand! If you have done this, you have of your own free will and accord submitted yourself to be institutionalized. You have "committed yourself" for institutional care and control as it pertains to your religious life. The local C-I will now take care of you in your spiritual actions.
These "church members" have become SLAVES of the C-I indicating that they do not know how to stand on their own feet and make their own decisions in the service of the Lord. They have been "drugged" with the heresy that they MUST obey the C-I in whatever regimen (therapy) is prescribed for them. With this kind of "treatment" they are controlled by another "drug" called 'fear; that is, fear of MEN (Elders and the Minister/Clergy) who control and operate the C-I. Thus they have become totally "church-dependent" in their religious life. They are "hooked" and helpless in their own ability to order and control their individual service to Christ. The C-I has taken the place of Jesus Christ as far as they are concerned. Without it they are helpless and lost. As obedient, institutionalized individuals they feel safe and secure, and on the "HIGH road to glow;" but totally helpless in their own persons to learn and do the will of the Father in heaven.
The above description accurately portrays the condition of all Church institutionalized people; whether they are institutionalized in the Church of Christ local Church-Institutions, Baptist Church local Church-Institutions, Methodist Church local Church-Institutions, Independent Christian Church local Church-Institutions, or any other kind. They are indeed "hooked" and they are "Church-dependent." They have been treated by "quack doctors'' with the "drug" (false doctrine) of the necessity and great benefits offered in the C-I.
The institutionalizing of God's people started early, even before the Apostles died. Study carefully 2 Thess. 2:3-12 and I Tim. 4:1-5. Speaking by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no question that Paul here writes of the beginning of what was to gradually evolve into the RCC. That monstrous religious organization has institutionalized millions and millions of people through the ages. This is the way to control and use people! As members of the institution, they are subject to its rules and regulations and will be properly disciplined if they do not conform--follow the regimen prescribed.
The RCC is the pattern, the prototype, of all church-institutions, of whatever character and by whatever name they may be called. The RCC was the first to prescribe the institutionalizing of disciples; and all other religious organizations have followed right along. Today, the C of C
Churches and the ICC Churches are right in there with all the others functioning as church-institutions, where the disciples of Jesus are to be institutionalized, "drugged," and made "Church-dependent." The ability of the individuals to function on their own has been nullified, maybe even destroyed! They are SLAVES of the C-I.
The questions at the beginning represent the confusion of those who have for years been "locked up" in the local church. The local church is there to make all the decisions for them, like tell them when to report in for "treatment" and "take their medicine." This can be expressed euphemistically as "attending the services." It means that they are to report in at the appointed place, at the appointed times, to do the appointed things in the appointed way! This, my dear brother and sister, is the prescription for YOUR institutional care. YOU have been INSTITUTIONALIZED. Being a faithful, obedient, docile Church member is the prescription for YOU. Your responsibility is to (1) OBEY and (2) PAY. Perhaps a third one is to "make no waves and ask no questions'' because YOU have no voice and no vote in setting up your regimen or schedule. It is a way of life and most "church-dependent" people are lost without it. You are to live and function under the orders of the professional "church doctors."
Because of the institutional conditioning and control over so many years, those who have been institutionalized can't order their own life. They are afraid to take charge of their own life. While this C-I routine is often boring and of little real spiritual value, the "members" are "programmed" into believing that they must attend "every time the doors open." They must go for the "worship rituals," incantations, and the "pulpit therapy." They are "addicted.'' They put their trust in the C-I to get them through and into heaven.
To be freed from church-institutional care (religion) and just be a Christian only is very frightening to all who have been institutionalized all their religious life. They do not feel any right or obligation to visit the sick until the C-I announces who the sick are and tells everyone that you may now visit them, send a card or call them. In this modern age, you can now call in on the C-I "hot-line" and find out just who you are to pray for, visit, and also get other C-I information.
Most disciples do not believe they can teach God's word or even study it with others in their homes until the C-I appoints them to do so or at least approves it. Hence, 95% of those who are institutionalized in the local C-I wouldn't dare attempt such on their own. They must wait until the Education Minister, who must first get his directions from the Pulpit Minister and the Board of Elders, makes the selection of those who will be allowed to teach next quarter. If you are approved to teach, they make it so easy for you (which is another control mechanism). They make all the decisions for you--which class, what lessons you will teach, actually the very things you are to say/teach, how long the class will be, who will be in it, what age group you are capable of teaching, and they follow up (through their hired professional) to see that you do it as prescribed.
The particular set-up just described above is outrageous when it is examined! It controls, limits, or restricts the teaching or spreading of the truth by God's people to these feeble, almost worthless, efforts done at the church building. In a subtle, but effective, way it restricts the teaching of the word to the church building, where the clergy and Eldership have total control. The people seem to have been "brainwashed" into thinking that they cannot in their own independent efforts do any teaching at all. All the teaching and everything else MUST be initiated and performed under the oversight and control of the Eldership. Therefore, until and unless the C-I (in which YOU have been "member-rized") schedules you to teach, you can't do any teaching. It also tacitly implies that you do not have to do any teaching at all at any time or any place unless the C-I appoints you to do it; hence, you are thereby excused from doing any teaching at all. You are even relieved of teaching your own children, the C-I will take charge of that for you. You dare not presume to do anything like this on your own or you will be in trouble with your C-I and its "doctors.''
Even though there isn't much of it done anymore, look at the so-called Personal Work Programs. They are under C-I control· The C-I will set up a 3-month personal work class to train you to do personal work in a cut-and-dried "professional" way. The participants will be indoctrinated with all the "Ready Answers to Religious Errors," so they can properly deal with all these lost people in all these other denominations and show them the error of their way. They will provide all the equipment you need-- slide projector, film strips, booklets for study, etc., which will control what is studied and ensure that only what the C-I prescribes as truth is taught. As "wards" of the C-I, you can't be trusted to act on your own in this or anything else. The C-I both prescribes and proscribes your religious activities. Hence, you are "church dependent" and are afraid to move out on your own to do anything.
This is a subtle but effective way of neutralizing the possible efforts of the great majority of saints. Hence, they sit on pews waiting to be told what to do next. Most never are told to do anything at all other than "faithfully attend all the services" and be sure to "lay by in store of your money every Sunday for the work of the C-I. It takes MONEY ($$$'s) to operate one of these C-Is; and the "treatment" they provide is getting more expensive all the time.
Is it any wonder that the majority of C-I members do not know how and do not feel the obligation to do anything on their own?
In Romans 15:14, Paul praised the saints in Rome saying:
"And concerning you, my brethren, I myself am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, AND ABLE TO ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER."
It is apparent that they were not institutionalized in some local C-I or they would have been as helpless as the "C-I dependent" disciples of today. They must have accepted their own personal responsibility and got together when it pleased them to admonish one another. They had no C-I to handle this and do it for them. They were able to do on their own what the Hebrew writer urged those to whom he wrote to do: "...and let us consider how to stimulate (encourage) one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another..." (Heb. 10:24-25). The disciples themselves were to do this on their own. They did not have a C-I to take charge and do it all for them.
What should an individual do who wants to serve God on his/her own? Where can he learn what is expected of him? Well, he does not need to be institutionalized to faithfully serve the Lord. The Lord has provided His directions and guidance in the New Covenant Scriptures; which are "inspired by God and profitable .for teaching,, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17). What else do you want? Why do you need a C-I, with its hired professional clergy, to order and control your service to God? You are FREE IN CHRIST to serve HIM by doing His will and serving others. Let HIM direct your life and your service.
Do you want what is "profitable for teaching?" What is necessary for "reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness?" Do you desire to be "adequate, equipped for every good work" in His service? Then seek the answers in the God-breathed Scripture.
Some basic information can be found in the three parables of Matthew 25. These clearly show that it is all based upon individual responsibility and accountability. Nobody, not even a C-I, can do this for you. Look at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) for some clear directions about your life and living. You are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You can't do that by just sitting in a pew at a C-I therapy "service." Look at the description of those who are said to be "blessed."
Romans 6 is a great chapter on what is expected of us. In fact, it can all be summed up simply by saying that we should "follow Jesus" who is our Example; and that we should love one another. If we really LOVE our fellowman, those who are lost in sin, we just MUST try to reach them with Jesus and His message. As the Apostle Paul was told to do, we must carry that Good News "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18). We must teach those who have become disciples to observe all things that Jesus taught the apostles (Matt. 28:19). Can't you do any of this on your own?
All these instructions were given by Christ for His disciples to follow as individuals. None of it was ever given to a C-I! You are on your own. Stand up on your feet and accept your individual responsibility DE-INSTITUTIONALIZE YOURSELF! Not one disciple of Jesus was ever Institutionalized; not one ever "joined" a C-I or is spoken of as a "member of a C-I." Jesus did NOT die for an institution or a church. You cannot join or be a "member" of such by His authority. To be institutionalized is to become a slave to men; and to remove Christ as your Lord and Master.
Are you "church-dependent?" Have you been institutionalized? If you have, and are, then in that relationship you do not belong to Him! Accept your personal responsibility, cut the C-I tie, and be FREE IN CHRIST. HE will be your Great Physician and provide the only prescription you need. - CAH